Review: The Color Master by Aimee Bender

The Color Master
 By: Aimee Bender
 Publisher: Doubleday
 Release Date: August 13, 2013

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

The Summary (via Goodreads):

The bestselling author of The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake returns with a wondrous collection of dreamy, strange, and magical stories.

Truly beloved by readers and critics alike, Aimee Bender has become known as something of an enchantress whose lush prose is “moving, fanciful, and gorgeously strange” (People), “richly imagined and bittersweet” (Vanity Fair), and “full of provocative ideas” (The Boston Globe). In her deft hands, “relationships and mundane activities take on mythic qualities” (The Wall Street Journal).

In this collection, Bender’s unique talents sparkle brilliantly in stories about people searching for connection through love, sex, and family—while navigating the often painful realities of their lives. A traumatic event unfolds when a girl with flowing hair of golden wheat appears in an apple orchard, where a group of people await her. A woman plays out a prostitution fantasy with her husband and finds she cannot go back to her old sex life. An ugly woman marries an ogre and struggles to decide if she should stay with him after he mistakenly eats their children. Two sisters travel deep into Malaysia, where one learns the art of mending tigers who have been ripped to shreds.

In these deeply resonant stories—evocative, funny, beautiful, and sad—we see ourselves reflected as if in a funhouse mirror. Aimee Bender has once again proven herself to be among the most imaginative, exciting, and intelligent writers of our time.



Woooheeee! What a ride! This collection was magical, disturbing and all in all an epic read. I had never read Aimee Bender before this, but now I’m wanting more (The Girl With the Flammable Skirt, here I come).

There’s this surreal quality to all the 15 stories in this collection. There is sadness, there are shockers, and sometimes, there’s confusion.

Some more adjectives? This collection is edgy, bizarre and brilliant.
“Appleless”: The opening story was a tad bit weird, but a brilliant teaser for what was to come. It was disturbing as it is about obsession and how it can change into something horrifying. About a woman who doesn’t eat apples and men who do, and how they become obsessed with the woman. Appalling.

“The Red Ribbon”: This has to be one of my favorites. It’s about a wife who follows the principle that nothing in life should be free and decides to charge her husband for sexual favors.

“Tiger Mending”: Two sisters are sent Malaysia where one is to mend tigers whose skin is peeling off.

“Faces”:  A boy whose concerned mother is trying to understand why he doesn’t remember his friends’ names or faces. Creepy.

“On a Saturday Afternoon”:  A young woman invites two male friends to her apartment and then indulges in voyeurism.

“The Fake Nazi”:  An elderly man keeps turning himself into authorities for war crimes he hasn’t commited.

“Lemonade”:  About the cruelty that is teenage. Heartbreaking and one of the stand-out pieces of this collection.

“Bad Return”:  Women and friendship.

“Origin Lessons”:  A professor explains the how the universe came to be.

“The Doctor and the Rabbi”:  About life and living and believing.

“Wordkeepers”:  People no longer know the names of common objects.

“The Color Master”:  Based on a 17th century fairy tale where dress makers must make shoes/clothes to resemble

“State of Variance”:  A woman who only sleeps an hour a night tells her son that he has a face that is too perfect, too symmetrical. “Her son’s face was almost a perfect mirror of itself, in such a way that one realized how imperfections created trust because no one trusted her son, with that perfect symmetry in his face; contrary to the magazine articles that stated women would arch and flex easily above him, beneath him, due to that symmetry, no—his symmetry was too much, and women shied away, certain he was a player.”

“Americca”: A story in which everyday objects appear in a family’s home for no apparent reason.

“The Devourings”: A woman marries a ogre, who accidentally eats their children. “As she unlaced her blouse, he touched fingertips to her trembling bare shoulders and explained in his low gravel that he only ate human beings he did not know. I know your name now, he murmured. I know your travels. You’re safe.” ‘Nuff said.

Magical Realism at its best. Must read for anyone who loves short stories!



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